This is WHY I Speak Up. Why Do You?

My professional blog really isn’t a political space. It’s an area for me to reflect on teaching and learning and to engage in conversations, which ultimately impact positively on my teaching practices. But right now in education, as we look at negotiating another contract, it’s hard to avoid the political realm. I don’t want to either, as I think there’s tremendous value in hearing teacher voice as part of this discussion. Yesterday, there was a huge rally at Queen’s Park, which spoke to the impact that cuts have on kids.

The hashtags used in the tweet above were all trending on Twitter yesterday, as educators, administrators, and community members at the rally and supporting it from afar, shared photographs, videos, and information about the experience. Paul McGuire, a retired principal, often causes me to think, and this tweet of his from yesterday definitely did so.

While I liked a lot of Twitter and Instagram posts from the rally, I didn’t retweet many of them. In fact, my political profile on Twitter has been pretty quiet thus far. Just as I struggle with writing a political blog post, I also struggle with sharing politically-charged tweets. I know that my Twitter and blogging audience vary from location as well as position, and I’m very aware of this variation when I share. That said, there comes a time when we all need to speak up.

I wonder though if we can’t use our regular subject areas to also address this crisis in education. For you see, I’m able to share what I do …

  • because our class size makes meaningful connections with all students, possible.
  • because I have a wonderful teaching partner, Paula, who constantly pushes me to think differently, and has inspired more professional blog posts, tweets, and Instagram posts than I can count. In many ways, the success of our classroom rests in the power of our team.
  • because we have adequate support for student need, and we’re able to meet the many needs of the students in our class. 

Teaching is my passion. If our classroom and school realities change for next year, I know that I’ll continue to do everything that I can to create a positive classroom environment and a successful school year for all students. Like all teachers though, I’m human. We have limits. And more students and less supports, could also impact on classroom realities and sharing possibilities. So as we’re in the midst of this crisis in education, I want to continue to use my social media presence to celebrate the success of our students, to highlight the learning environment and classroom experiences that we give kids, and to reflect on my professional growth and next steps, for I think that doing so, can also show the government and the community that educators are passionate and devoted to kids, and we want what’s best for students. This is why we’re speaking out. This is why we’re fighting. Kids … first and foremostMaybe our regular content will also provide some more support for our political content. My tweets may not necessarily be changing much now, but as I look to the months ahead, I wonder, what impact might the current crisis in education have on them? I look to the faces of our many wonderful kids, and am reminded again, that their reality — and their future — is why I speak up. Why do you?

Aviva

6 thoughts on “This is WHY I Speak Up. Why Do You?

  1. Aviva,
    I was teaching the last time we had a Conservative government. Yes, I’m that old. Uniquely, I was teaching at a small religious private school, largely because I had moved to a new community 4 years into my teaching career, and jobs were very, very thin on the ground. So, I got to teach while my ETFO colleagues walked picket lines. It was a weird place to be, because I’ve always been a political activist.
    One thing I remember from that stretch was being utterly disrespected for my profession. If I was at a large social gathering, and a new acquaintance asked what I did, and I said I taught elementary school, the response was often “oh” and then walking away.
    I feel we are headed there again.
    On Friday, more than 30 teachers in my board learned they will not have jobs in the fall. I found out Friday night that one of them was Mr 15’s incredible music teacher (I am trying to write a post, but my eyes keep watering). What struck me was, if small high school music programs are eliminated, where is the impetus for my intermediate instrumental program (and the 2 periods a week I get with each intermediate class)? Why take that time? What do I say to the amazing tenor sax player who is signed up for Grade 9 music, and looking forward to a band program that will no longer exist in September?
    That’s why I speak up. My students deserve the opportunity to choose options that feed their souls; I deserve to be respected for what I do.

    • Oh Lisa! Thank you for sharing your past experiences and the sad news of lay-offs that came to your Board on Friday. I cannot remember teaching at a time when teachers were given pink slips (I remember my step-dad getting one twice and being called back almost instantaneously, but I feel as though he was one of the lucky ones), and it makes me beyond sad to think that we’re at this point again. Your comment reminds me that we have to tell these stories — of teachers and of kids — as our experiences are so different, and these stories, also give a much-needed human face to this crisis. It reminds me that we have to speak up, as all students deserve to explore their passions, and the reality of today, is that this might not happen. A very sad reality indeed. Is it fair to say that I’m looking, hoping, and praying for a little miracle, even as I’m incredibly concerned about our current situation?

      Aviva

  2. I keep coming back to this: 179,000 teachers in this province, but only 72,000 total people responded to the “robust” consultation. And those 72,000 seem to have sent a “loud, clear” message that the cuts and weird new rules should happen. So where would we be if all the teachers at the rally had spoken up earlier? Not sure, to be honest. But I think it has shown us how important it is to make our voices heard. People outside education need us to keep them informed, to enrage them about the jeopardy our children & education system are in. We really can’t miss this opportunity to be heard.

    • This is a hard one, Lisa, but maybe yesterday’s rally shifted thoughts and that need to continue to speak up. I know that it made me realize that I had to say something. I wonder how many others feel the same. We can’t change what was already done, but we can change what we do from now on. I feel as though many more voices will be heard. I hope that I’m right.

      Aviva

  3. I think we have to always have hope, my friend. But when I read the language in the minister’s response to Thursday’s phenomenal student protest, it did not make me feel hopeful. My students were totally confused that I wasn’t going to walk with them, and had a hard time explaining that I couldn’t, because that would be political.

    Keep hope in our hearts, keep focusing on the best things for our students, keep sharing stories. That’s what we have to do. We are strongest together.

    • Thanks Lisa! I want to be hopeful, but I know exactly what you’re saying. I’m worried about what the future holds. But speaking up and sharing stories will hopefully continue to get many educator and student voices into the discussion. There’s something to be said for being heard. And maybe, with a lot of hope, the more that our voices are heard, things will begin to change for the better!

      Aviva

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